Saturday, 19 March 2011

Snapanda: interesting dictionary/camera app for Android

In my last post I looked at various free dictionaries available for Android, and Snapanda is an interesting addition to the list while adding a fun twist.

The app allows you to use your phone's camera to focus on a word - say on a menu, poster or any other text you have in front of you - and when you touch that word on the screen, it will recognise it and give you the option to look it up in the dictionary.

In the picture you can see I touched the word 'issue'. This took me a few goes admittedly. Sometimes it just recognises a letter or nothing at all and certain fonts or background colours seem to cause it problems, but it does work around 70-80% of the time and given that it's still in beta, that's not bad. The accuracy does also seem connected to how well focussed the camera is on the word and also the stillness of your hand when pressing on the word. My shaky middle-aged fingers might be the cause of some of the problems and maybe those of you with a steadier hand might fare better. 

The actual dictionary section is fairly rudimentary, but at the same time well laid out and easy to read. It's not too technical and they have some decent examples. 

You can also click through to find some expressions/idioms related to the word and there's the option to add the word to a personalised word list. 

As you can see from the screenshots, the developers have gone for a bright and breezy look, not quite sure what about dictionaries screams 'panda' but what the hell, why not try to make dictionaries a little less dull. 

Overall, I think it's a fun app, I would question whether it is actually faster than just typing a word into the dictionary and finding the meaning, but the 'aint this cool?' novelty factor might make English students use it more and learn words when they are on the street, in shops or restaurants.